January 23, 1945 |
|Residence||Manhattan, New York|
|Occupation||Real estate developer and minority owner of the Brooklyn Nets|
Pamela Lipkin (2008–2017)
Family and education
Ratner was born into a Jewish family in the Cleveland metropolitan area, the son of Harry Ratowczer (later Americanized to Ratner), one of eight children to immigrate to the US from Poland. Four of his paternal uncles, Leonard Ratner, Charles Ratner, Max Ratner, and Nate Shafran along with his aunt, Fannye Ratner Shafran founded Forest City Enterprises in 1920; originally a construction materials company it eventually evolved into construction and then into real estate development. Ratner's older brother is New York attorney Michael Ratner and his sister is Ellen Ratner, a news analyst for Fox News. Ratner graduated from Harvard College in 1967, and earned a Juris Doctor from Columbia University in 1970.
After law school, he worked for the City of New York. Under Mayor Ed Koch he became consumer affairs commissioner where he went after corrupt merchants, repairmen and alarm companies. As Consumer Affairs Commissioner, he gained notoriety for "diapering" the horses pulling carriages in Central Park. Commissioner Ratner was successful in initiating a law that required horse-drawn carriages to install receptacles to catch horse excrement rather than allow it to fall onto the street. He then turned to developing real estate.
Forest City Ratner
In 1985, he co-founded Forest City Ratner, a joint venture with his family's company of which he is now executive chairman. He developed the $1 billion complex of nine buildings in downtown Brooklyn called MetroTech. He supervised the building of a 393,000 square-foot shopping mall at the intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues in the 1990s. Forest City Ratner's unsuccessful bid to develop Columbus Circle, included installing a Sears there.
Nets ownership and the Pacific Park Brooklyn (formerly Atlantic Yards) development
The political Ratner (he was a former commissioner under Ed Koch and he was among other things one of the biggest spenders in New York state on lobbying politicians according to the New York Times) first became owner of the Nets when he headed an ownership group that purchased the franchise from YankeeNets for $300 million. Ratner's group beat out an ownership group led by Charles Kushner and former New Jersey governor Jon Corzine. Ratner relocated the Nets to New York City, specifically to build an arena in the Prospect Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn even though there was desire to keep them in New Jersey and strong neighborhood protests to keep them out of Brooklyn.
Barclays Center is the centerpiece and the only completed piece of a $3.5 billion sports arena, business and residential complex in development called Pacific Park Brooklyn. This project is being built by Ratner's company, Forest City Ratner. The site of the arena is adjacent to the site that Walter O'Malley wanted to use for a new stadium for the Brooklyn Dodgers in the early 1950s. (O'Malley's plan was rejected by the city, resulting in the Dodgers relocating to Los Angeles in 1958.) On September 23, 2009, Russian tycoon Mikhail Prokhorov reached a deal with Ratner to purchase an 80% stake of the Nets for $200 million, subject to Ratner acquiring financing for the arena project and control of the land by the end of the year in addition to the approval of three-fourths of the NBA board of governors. According to Ratner, accepting Prokhorov as majority owner "gives us a partner who adds to the financial strength of the venture. Mikhail will have primary responsibility for the basketball part and we will have primary responsibility for the arena and the real estate." On May 11, 2010, the sale of the Nets was approved by the NBA.
Ratner originally planned to move the Nets across the Hudson River for the beginning of the 2009–10 NBA season. However, he had to revise his goal and moved the franchise to Brooklyn for the start of the 2012–13 season. Although the arena was scheduled to open in 2011, along with the rest of the complex, controversies involving the project's use of eminent domain and local residents, coupled with the lack of continued funding in a struggling economy, caused the project to be altered and delayed. On May 16, 2009, the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division struck down an opponents' lawsuit that sought to prevent the state of New York from using eminent domain to seize the property where the 22-acre (89,000 m2) Pacific Park Brooklyn project is being built. The opponents appealed the New York Supreme Court's ruling, but lost when the Court of Appeals, New York's highest court, upheld the right of the state to use eminent domain for this project. A groundbreaking ceremony was held on the site on March 11, 2010, but ringed with protests. The Nets began playing in Brooklyn in time for the 2012–13 NBA season.
Ratner serves on a number of boards including the Weill Cornell Medical College, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and the Museum of Jewish Heritage as chairman-elect of its trustees board. He was chairman of the board and now chairman emeritus of the Brooklyn Academy of Music's board of trustees.
Ratner has two daughters from his first marriage to Julie Ratner: Lizzy Ratner, a writer and Rebecca Ratner, a filmmaker. Following his first marriage, he began dating plastic surgeon Pamela Lipkin in 1997. They wed in January 2008. Ratner has a home estate in Ulster County, as well as a home in Quogue, closer to Manhattan. He and Lipkin lived in a brownstone in the Upper East Side in Manhattan, until their divorce in April 2017.
- New York Observer: "If Bruce Ratner Can Move the Empire Theater He Can Move Himself" by Carl Swanson March 16, 1998
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